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The annual average personal trainer salary may range from around $21,000 to about $33,000. However, this depends on what experience the trainer has and where he is employed. A more experienced average salary of a personal trainer may even exceed a yearly salary of $58,000.

Personal trainers are a little different from athletic trainers. Personal trainers claim that they work more as employees (49 percent of them) than as independent contractors (38 percent). Data from the IDEA Fitness Industry Compensation Trends Report conducted in 2010 claims there is an average of six personal trainers to every facility.

But the average personal trainer salary depends on several elements such as the company size, industry, level of education, years of experience and location. Personal trainers in the U.S. make around $18.13 per hour on average. The most significant aspects that affect this kind of compensation are the company in which they work, tenure and geography. Most personal trainers are men (58 percent of them) and most have reported high levels of satisfaction in their jobs.

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Personal Trainer Job Description

The personal trainer’s job is to assist clients in achieving their health and fitness goals. It’s his (or hers) job to be patient, an excellent motivator and to make sure that the relationship between the client and him is a good one. It’s also his responsibility to motivate his client even if said client is the numbest person possible. At often times, the personal trainer will have to deal with an individual who wishes to give up and it’s his job to know how to keep his client exercising. The personal trainer must be well informed about his client and keep a report of the progress his client made and other factors such as medical history, measurements, weight and height. He must always adjust to the needs of the client so that the client reaches his health and fitness goals. Even though it’s very important for the personal trainer to rely on a strict schedule, mostly because time wasted is counterproductive, he may need to be flexible depending on the client’s wishes. A trainer should also recommend to the client which diet to follow after and before the exercise sessions.

Personal Trainer Tasks

The personal trainer must always make sure the equipment in the gym is used safely and effectively. He must give the client constant fitness assessments and evaluations and come up with personalized training schedules for all his clients. Probably the most important task of a personal trainer is to make sure he and his clients have a great relationship which will also help him keep his customers.

Average Personal Trainer Salary

The trainers who manage to advance to more upper-end positions such as Physician Assistant have greater salaries than those in lower-end positions. The average salary for a Physician Assistant is about $82K a year.

24 Hour Fitness Inc., Fitness Together, LA Fitness and Gold’s Gym are some of the most popular companies that employ a lot of personal trainers. Trainers who are self-employed bring in the largest paychecks, with an average of $80K per year. However, the pay scale in companies ranges drastically. This means that the low-end workers may only earn about $31K and upper-end ones may have salaries of up to $155K inside big name firms. 24 Hour Fitness Inc. pays its personal trainers with $31K a year, Gold’s Gym with $39K and Equinox with $45K. Planet Fitness seems to pay the least for its personal trainers at around $21K a year. Other companies at the lower end of the scale for this kind of job are LA Fitness that pays its trainers with around $28K a year and Anytime Fitness Inc. with $26K per year for its employees.

The people who are in their initial stages of their careers can expect to get paid around $33K a year. Having said that, individuals who have a five year to a 10 year experience can bring in on average around $46K a year, which is a significantly larger compensation. Personal trainers who have been working for 10 to 20 years bring in around $58K. For whatever reason, however, workers with experience of two decades or more claim they get smaller paychecks, the average compensation of these workers is about $53K.

NYC, New York delivers quite a significant pay rate for its employees, a pay rate that is higher than the national average by around 65 percent. Personal trainers can expect to get higher paychecks in cities such as San Diego, California (14 percent more), Denver, Colorado (19 percent more), San Francisco, California (24 percent more) and Minneapolis, Minnesota (33 percent more). Miami, Florida seems to have the least paying market with about 16 percent less than the national average. Other two cities in which personal trainers are paid below the national average are Austin, Texas with 4 percent less and Orlando, Florida with 10 percent.

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It’s really easy to lose your way on the Internet and spend a lot of time on all sorts of websites. As entertaining as this may be, it’s not exactly a very productive way to spend your time. Here are some productive ways to spend time on the internet.

1. Cut social media sites out of your life

The best way to spend time doing productive things on the internet is to completely cut out all social media networks out of your life. However, if you find that you can’t cut them out completely, at least try to limit the time you spend on these kinds of websites to an hour a day at most. There are some extensions available for Chrome that will help you to achieve this, such as StayFocusd. These sites will ruin your life if you spend too much time on them.

Everyone tries to justify how much time they spend on social media networks by saying things such as “I only use Facebook to stay in touch with all my relatives and friends” or “I use Twitter to stay up to date with events” and many others. However, people don’t actually spend time on those websites doing the things they say they do. Most of the times people just mindlessly scroll through posts, cat videos, funny gifs and many other time wasters you can find on social networks.

2. Make to-do lists

There probably isn’t anything more efficient than a to-do list. Use a lot of details when you write your list and fill it with all the things that you have to do by prioritizing the items on the list according to difficulty. Most importantly, don’t try to be all fancy about it. Do not use a Google Chrome extension, Evernote or some other app. Just use a simple pen and a sheet of paper. The more discrete and smaller the tasks you write on your list are, the easier it will be for you to overcome them.

Plan the way in which you will procrastinate between completing the tasks on your list. Try to do something useful between the tasks like completing a lesson in Duolingo, playing a game of chess and so on. If you are too tired to procrastinate, take a power nap and then return to your tasks.

3. Practice efficient procrastination

If you’re feeling tired after completing a task try to “recharge your batteries” by doing something useful. Like I said before, you can play a game of chess, watch a TED Talks episode. Don’t just watch cat videos on the internet or browse meme websites. You can do whatever you enjoy most, but don’t waste time. Read a book, play a musical instrument… you get the point.

4. Answer the question “who cares?”

If you are about to post something on Facebook or on another social media site ask yourself this simple question: Who cares? If you do something that doesn’t help you grow as a person, don’t waste any time with it. If you find yourself being attracted by an article with a stupid title, don’t read it. There are no good possible things that could come out of reading such an article. Consuming such articles doesn’t bring any benefits to anyone.

5. Spend time on the internet browsing interesting websites

These following websites are very interesting and useful, so give them a try.

How Stuff Works

This website is a subsidiary of Discovery and it’s a great source of unbiased, credible and very easy to understand details of how things in the world work. There are many categories from which you can choose from that will feed your intellect.


Even though most of us go to Wikipedia only through search, the website’s home page features a great variety of topics you probably don’t know anything about. This is a great way to open your mind to numerous new things.


Our brain constantly needs training just like any other muscle in our body. On this website you will find a series of excellent workouts that will help you keep your brain sharp.


This is a very addictive site that will help you spend your time in a very useful manner. You will have a lot of fun on this website and will also get to find out how exactly coding works.

Brain Pickings

This is a very useful website filled with things you didn’t know you were interested in until you actually come across them. The website is powered by Maria Popova. The woman reads around 13 books a week and posts all the interesting things you can find on the website.

6. Spend less time on the internet altogether

The best way to stop wasting time on the internet is to spend less time on it altogether, especially if you can’t really control yourself. Try to accomplish all that you can without the use of the internet and only use it when you absolutely have to. If you don’t have a job that demands the use of the internet then you will be able to stop using it so much. After all, people in the past were able to not use the internet, why couldn’t you?

Image source: blogspot.com

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lil wayne net worth

Lil Wayne Net Worth: $140 Million

You’re all probably wondering what the Lil Wayne Net Worth is and how he built such a massive enterprise from his career. Lil Wayne is an American producer, music executive and rapper with a net worth of $140 million. He grew up in the 17th ward in New Orleans, and whether you call him Weezy F. Baby, Mr. Carter or Lil Wayne, he reached fame in ways others only dream to. He started his music career at the age of 15 with Hot Boys, a rap group from Cash Money Records and soon after that Lil Wayne debuted The Block is Hot, his solo album that reached number 3 in the Billboard charts and went platinum.

The young rapper was influenced by artists from Cash Money Records such as U.N.L.V. and Pimp Daddy and he started rapping at block parties. The rapper’s performance at one of those parties drew the eye of a Cash Money rapper called Lil Slim. Through him, Wayne met with the big shots at Cash Money Records, Ronald “Slim” Williams and Brian “Baby” Williams. Even though the two were quite impressed by Wayne’s style, he didn’t sign any contract with the record company until he continuously left freestyle rap recordings on “Baby” Williams’ answering machine.

Lil Wayne career started when he got his big shot to sign a contract with Cash Money at the age of 11, which made him the youngest rapper in the record company. After he signed the contract, Lil Wayne had an accident that almost cost him his life. He accidentally shot himself in the chest with the gun of his stepfather, which forced him to go for two weeks on life support.

After he recovered, Lil Wayne had his first gig and was grouped with another newcomer with the name of Lil’ Doggie. Lil’ Doggie is known more as B.G. which formed the B.G.’z rap group. After releasing a failing album in 1995, and after the death of his stepfather in 1997, the rapper was given another chance to record an album with Baby. It was then that he formed the group “The Hot Boys”.

While the group saw success in numerous states by 1999, it was only when Wayne released Tha Block is Hot solo album that he got his biggest break, the one that made him famous across the entire United States.

His next two albums were not such great hits, however. His album called 500 Degreez was supposed to beat the sales of Juvenile’s multi-platinum album called 400 Degreez. The sales of Wayne’s album, however, were very disappointing. He sold only 900,000 copies worldwide and 536,000 in the United States.

Despite numerous controversies, Lil Wayne still had success. His albums called Tha Carter and Tha Carter II (his fourth and fifth albums) were proof the rapper had a great sense of self, which is obvious in his lyrics. He became the president of the record company Cash Money Records and founded an imprint of Cash Money called Young Money Entertainment in 2005.

His album Tha Carter III (his sixth album released in 2008), the rapper was nominated for eight Grammy’s. These eight nominations were the most for any artist that year and Lil Wayne won four of them. The rapper released his first Rock album called Rebirth in 2010 and was named by MTV the second hottest MC behind the Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z. His album I Am Not a Human Being launched in the same year as Rebirth and made it to the top 10 in Hot 200 just like many of his creations. The album also gained him the respect of reviewers back.

In 2009, the documentary called Tha Carter was presented at the Sundance Film Festival. The rapper collaborated with numerous musicians such as Ludacris, Akon, Chris Brown, T-Pain, T.I. Keri Hilson and Birdman.

Lil Wayne caused a lot of hype in the media before the launch of his album I Am Not a Human Being II because the rapper was hospitalized for seizures. Some rumors claimed that Wayne was on drugs but he later explained that he was an epileptic and had gone through many other seizures in the past without the public knowing anything about them.

Some people say that Lil Wayne is the greatest rapper in history while others claim the rapper is self-destructive. Whatever the truth, there is no arguing he worked hard for his fortune and that Lil Wayne has become essential in American music and will always have a spot there.

Image source: pitchfork.com

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 Image source: utvet.com

In this article we hope to answer the question “What is ALS disease and how does it affect people?”.

More commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS is a disease that impacts nerves in the spinal cord and brain. Motor neurons make the connection between the brain and muscles. ALS damages this connection which eventually kills the motor neurons. When the neurons die, the brain can no longer control the muscles. Patients who suffer of ALS and are in the later stages may grow to be completely paralyzed.

The word “amyotrophic” has its origins in the Greek language. “A” means no, “Myo” means muscle and “Trophic” stands for nourishment. When the nourishments is lost within muscles, the muscle becomes useless and it becomes atrophied. The word “lateral” refers to the zones in the spinal cord where cells that control muscles are found. As that zone becomes damaged it leads to “sclerosis”.

Motor neurons that are damaged will no longer give impulses to muscles. It’s these kinds of impulses that make the muscles move. Symptoms of ALS include weakness of the muscles, particularly in the legs and arms and difficulty in breathing, swallowing and speech. Muscles that no longer receive any signals from neurons will start to atrophy. The limbs of the patient start to slim down as the muscles become more and more atrophied.

Initial symptoms of ALS

The initial symptoms may be overlooked as the disease starts off slowly. The zones of the body first affected by the ALS are entirely dependent on where the disease starts harming the neurons in the first stages. Around 75% of all people who are affected by the disease have the first symptoms in the legs and arms. Patients who encounter the symptoms in their legs may experience an odd sensation when running or walking. The people suffering from the disease may stumble or trip during the first stages of the disease. The people who experience the first symptoms in their arms may have difficulties in tasks such as writing or buttoning a shirt. Around 25% of people suffering from ALS encounter bulbar ALS. This means that those people have trouble swallowing or speaking. Their speech may become quieter, nasal or slurred. Some other symptoms include loss of mobility of the tongue and difficulty swallowing.

Over the time, patients will encounter issues when swallowing, moving and speaking. Other symptoms include stiff and tight muscles and magnified reflexes, including an exaggerated gag reflex.


Even though the rate and order of the symptoms are different from one person to another, most of the patients eventually lose the ability to walk or the use of their arms and hands. Most people also lose their ability to swallow food or speak and end up having to use a portable ventilator (BiPAP). The disease eventually moves in other parts of the body and starts to atrophy other muscles, regardless of where the early stages of the disease occur.

Progression seems to be slower in people that are younger (40 years or younger), people who experience upper motor neuron symptoms in the early stages of the disease and are a little obese. Progression is faster, however, in people with frontotemporal dementia, who experience bulbar-onset in the early stages and respiratory-onset.

Late Stages

In late stages of the ALS, the nerve that controls movements of the eyes can be impacted. In the final stages of the disease, the condition of the patient may appear like the locked in syndrome.


There is no real certainty of what causes the disease. Around 5 to 10% of cases are because of genetics. The people who suffer from ALS inherit the disease from the parents. A flaw in the chromosome 21 is linked to around 20% of familial ALS cases and 2% cases of ALS in total.

90% of ALS cases are not associated with any presence of the disease in the patient’s family. In these kinds of cases the cause of the disease is unknown. Some potential causes may be frequent drug use, military service, head trauma and contact sports. Some recent study claim there is a link between the ALS disease and food that has been contaminated by the blue green algae.

Another cause of the ALS disease is an injury in the motor system in zones like the frontotemporal lobes. Injuries in those areas show more often than not signs of deficit, which can predict the loss of mobility and will result in the spread of the ALS disease.

Other potential causes include occupation, electric shocks, exposure to electromagnetic fields and chemicals. These kinds of causes have no consistent findings even though they have been analyzed.

There is currently no test that can definitely reveal the presence of the ALS disease, although the early symptoms can suggest the disease.

Treatment is very ambiguous for this disease. While there are certain medications that have proved to be a little efficient in the disease (such as Riluzole), most of the medication available on the market only address the symptoms of the disease and do not cure it completely.

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Renal lithiasis, or kidney stones, are small and hard deposits made of acid and mineral salts that are formed inside your kidneys. They can affect any part of a person’s urinary tract, from your kidney, urethra to your bladder. If you have kidney stones, then you’re most likely in a lot of pain, especially if you’re passing them, that’s why it is very important to know what causes them, so you know how to avoid being at risk of developing kidney stones. So what causes kidney stones? Read on and find out.

What Causes Kidney Stones

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

You can have kidney stones and not know you have them. The moment a kidney stone starts to make itself felt is the moment it starts moving inside your kidneys or enters your ureter (which is the channel that connects your kidneys to your bladder). When the kidney stones enter the ureter or start moving in your kidneys, then you will be experiencing some or all of these symptoms: severe pain below the ribs and in the side and back, pain that comes in waves, pain that fluctuates in intensity, pain that spread to the groin and lower abdomen, pain while urinating, pink, brown or red urine, vomiting or nausea, urge to urinate more often than usual, fever and chills (this happens if your kidney stones are giving you an infection). Also, if your pain seems to move around and/or increase in intensity, it is usually because the kidney stone moves.

When You Should See a Doctor

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then you should make an appointment with your physician immediately:

  • Severe pain. If you are experiencing pain that doesn’t allow you to sit in a comfortable position, then it’s time to see a doctor.
  • Pain and nausea. Sometimes pain can be so debilitating, that it causes nausea and even vomiting.
  • Pain and chills. If your pain is so intense that you’re experiencing fever and chills, then go see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Difficulty Urinating. If you have trouble urinating or you’re experiencing pain while urinating, then most likely you have kidney stones. You should get yourself checked out to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Blood in urine. If you’ve noticed any blood in your urine, then this might be a sign you have kidney stones.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Medicine today cannot give a concrete answer to this question. It is not yet known what exactly causes kidney stones, but there are several factors that do increase your risk of developing them.

The fluid in your urine can dilute the substances that form crystals that would turn into kidney stones, but when the fluid stops doing that due to various reasons, you get kidney stones. Depending on the type of kidney stones, you can determine what caused it.

The vast majority of kidney stones are calcium stones that are formed out of calcium oxalate. We can find oxalate in food, but you should now that our liver also produces this substance. High doses of vitamin D can increase your body’s levels of calcium oxalate as well as severe metabolic disorders or intestinal bypass surgery.

If your kidney stones are struvite stones then they were formed inside your kidneys as a result of an infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). When this is the case, struvite stones can grow quickly and can reach dangerous sizes without much previous warning. Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men are.

Uric acid kidney stones happen in people who don’t drink enough water or those who lose too much fluid sweating. Those who eat a high-protein diet, consume too much sodium and sugar or have gout also are at risk of developing uric acid stones.

If you’ve got cystinuria, which is a hereditary disorder that makes the kidneys excrete too many amino acids then you are likely to develop cysteine kidney stones.

What to Do to Avoid Getting Kidney Stones?

As mentioned earlier, more often than not, there is no definite cause of kidney stones, but there some things you can do to decrease your risk of developing kidney stones.

Firstly, if you are a man, then you’re more likely to develop kidney stones than a woman is. It is not yet known why this is the case. Also, children are less likely to get kidney stones than adults.

Secondly, it is known that prolonged dehydration will increase your risk of kidney stones. Drink plenty of water, aside from helping your kidneys, it also does wonders for your skin and general health. If you live in warmer climates or you sweat a lot, you’re also at risk of developing kidney stones. Drink water!

Thirdly, certain diets that are high in protein, sugar and sodium will increase your risk of certain types of kidney stones, so be careful! A high sodium diet increases the amount of calcium that gets accumulated in your kidneys and puts you at a high risk of developing kidney stones.

Fourthly, obesity also puts you at a high risk of getting kidney stones. Make sure your BMI is in the normal range, to avoid kidney stones and other health related issues.

Lastly, if you’ve got family that has had a history of kidney stones, then you might also be at risk. If this is the case, then you should take care of yourself, drink lots of water, avoid having an increased BMI and diets high in protein and sodium. Also, if having regular checkups will correctly assess your health situation and it will help you avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.

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what happens when you dieEven before man could form sentences and make fire, he’s been wondering about the afterlife, about what happens when you die. What does happen after your heart stops beating? We know that the body withers away, rots and disappears, leaving behind a bag of bones, but what about the soul? Is our soul immortal? Does it go back to where it came from? Does it enter another body? Does it even exist? Well, every religion on this earth gives a different answer to all those questions and today we’re going to take a quick look at the afterlife in different cultures and religions.

Afterlife in Christianity

In Christianity, things are pretty straightforward when it comes to the afterlife. There is a heaven and there is a hell, you get judged based on what you did when you were alive and you go to either place. In Catholicism, you spend some time in purgatory before you are sent to heaven or hell, in Orthodoxy that decision is made at the moment you die. Naturally, the situation of how it is decided where one goes after one dies is a little bit more complicated than being a bad or a good person, but if we were to sum it up: bad people go to hell, while good people go to heaven. There is no reincarnation in Christianity, the human soul is eternal and animals don’t have a soul. Pope Francis did something amazing a while back and said that animals go to heaven, too, which is unheard of until now. Then again, every pet owner on this Earth who loves their pets know that they have a soul, and a kind one none the less.

Afterlife in Buddhism

Life in Buddhism is suffering and once you die, you either get reincarnated into a different body with a similar karma or, if you achieve Nirvana, which is the highest form of bliss and existence, you dissolve yourself and your identity into the world. Buddhism doesn’t believe in the soul that Christians or Hindus do. They believe that once you die, there are certain elements of yourself that go on if Nirvana isn’t reached, but those elements do not take the form of a soul.

Afterlife in Hinduism

Hinduism also believes in reincarnation, but it also believes in the existence of a soul, which is immortal and imperishable. The soul gets reincarnated into a different body after it spends some time resting. It gets reincarnated until it learns everything it needs to so that it becomes complete, liberated. Neither life nor death are permanent, but merely temporary.

Afterlife in Judaism

Unfortunately, there is very little information about afterlife in Judaism. The Torah is very scarce with information, but there is some that might give us a little hint about the afterlife. It says that And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence.

So basically, if you are good, then you will live life eternal and if you are evil, you will live a an eternal life of abomination. Traditional Judaism believes in both Heaven and Hell, but what actually happens to you when you get to either place, we don’t know.

What Does Science Have to Say About Afterlife?

As you may imagine, science is pretty reserved about the existence of an afterlife. For decades, scientists have either said that there is no afterlife, or that there isn’t enough proof to say that there is or there isn’t an afterlife. Well, last year, there has been a mild scientific breakthrough about what happens to us after we die.

The results of the biggest medical study into out of body and near-death experiences have yielded some pretty interesting results that hint at the fact that awareness does indeed continue after our hearts stop beating and our brain stop functioning. The human brain shuts down completely 20-30 seconds after the heart stops beating, but the results of the study show otherwise.

The study was performed by the scientists at the University of Southampton; for four years, they examined around 2,000 people who died of cardiac arrest in the US, UK and Austria. They found that around 40% of the people who survived their cardiac arrests had some type of awareness during the time they were declared dead. Some of the people could even recall medical procedures that were performed on them, with specific details, while they were clinically dead.

This study is the largest and most important of its kinds, but there is still a long way to go before we can safely say from a scientific point of view that there is an afterlife.

What do you think happens after we die? What does your religion or your gut say about this? Drop us a line in the comment section below and share your thoughts with us.

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The world sure loves a good conspiracy theory! Lizard people taking over the world, a few chosen people killing the rest and thus taking over the world, aliens that walk among us wanting to take over the world. The goal is always the same, naturally: world domination!

The fear that the world would be out of control has plagued people since the dawn of time and that is why conspiracy theories have been so popular throughout history. In today’s article we’re going to answer a few burning questions that have been troubling people for hundreds of years: What is the Illuminati? Who are the Illuminati? What does the Illuminati conspiracy imply? Are there any celebrities who are part of the Illuminati? Read on to find out.

what is the illuminati symbol

Are the Illuminati Real?

Well, the first question that needs to be asked first is Have the Illuminati ever truly existed? The answer to that question is simple and I’m afraid it’s the only simple answer this article is

going to provide: Yes, the Illuminati were real.

The Illuminati historically refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, which was a society founded in 1776, during the Enlightenment era. The secret society had some very clear goals and they were: to oppose religious influence over public life, oppose superstition and obscurantism. This is what the original Illuminati had to say about their general goals: The order of the day is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them.

The Illuminati were banned by Charles Theodore, Bavarian ruler, who had the complete support of the Roman Catholic Church. The society officially dissolved, but many believed they still continued to exist in secret and were even thought to have initiated many political and social changes, including the French Revolution.

After the official end of the Illuminati, various organizations claim to have links or have originated from the Bavarian Illuminati. There is no proof to show that that there truly is an Illuminati society that has stemmed from the original society, but conspiracy theorists claim that the new Illuminati are trying to once again to attempt to take over the world, planting agents in various establishments so that they can have political power and influence large enough to establish a New World Order.

The New World Order

New World Order is a conspiracy theory which refers to a totalitarian world government. The gist of the New World Order is that there is a secret organization out there, most likely the Illuminati, with a globalist agenda. They’re planning to rule the world and remove all other forms of government. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that almost all the historic events are leading up to the fulfilment of the New World Order’s prophecy. It is up to if you choose to believe that or not.

Several Illuminati members’ testimonies have surfaced and they claim that the Illuminati want to take over the world, but they want to change it for the better. Naturally, those testimonies are thought to be false. The all-seeing eye within a pyramid is thought to be the symbol of the Illuminati and it’s as old as time itself. It represents knowledge, awareness and wealth. While it is believed that the Illuminati are rich men and women, some are saying that their wealth is more of a spiritual nature.

What Celebrities are Thought to be Part of the Illuminati

Naturally, none of the celebrities we’re about to mention confirmed or infirmed that they are part of the Illuminati. Well, one of celebs most often associated with the Illuminati is rapper and music mogul, Jay-Z. He’s been seen making the pyramid sign with his hand, which is believed to be the symbol for the Illuminati. Beyoncé, who happens to be Jay-Z’s wife, is also thought to be part of the Illuminati and has been seem making symbols with her hand during her shows. Rihanna, Madonna and Ke$ha are believed to be a part of the famous Illuminati.

The bottom line is that there is no proof that the Illuminati still exist, but if they do, it’s quite something that they’ve managed to keep their organization a secret for so long.

Do you believe that the Illuminati have control of the whole world and are orchestrating our future? Did you know that there are some voices that say that the Illuminati killed the King of Pop, Michael Jackson?! Whether you choose to believe this or not, our advice is to seek the truth whatever you are doing and never believe anything without concrete proof. Life is too short to spend it chasing wild geese!

What is the Illuminati

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what is obamacareIt’s been all over the media for years, ObamaCare! You’ve heard it being discussed left and right, and you don’t really understand much about it? You want to know more about ObamaCare, but you don’t know where to look or who to ask? That’s where we come in! We’re here to help you understand what ObamaCare is and how it affects you, an American citizen.  We’ve got a short presentation on ObamaCare (or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as it is formally known as) so read on and if you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask us in the comment section below.

What is ObamaCare?

ObamaCare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) acts as a reform to the health insurance industry. The PPACA is over a thousand pages long and in those pages, there are rights and protection written for every American.

As mentioned earlier, the PPACA was signed into law on March 23rd, 2010 and it was upheld on June 28, 2012 by a Supreme Court. This complex law basically requires all Americans to have health insurance by the end of this year, 2014 or pay a monthly fee for each month without coverage.

The thing is that ObamaCare doesn’t change how insurance is obtained, but it does add a new method of purchase: through state Health Insurance Marketplaces. There, you can receive cost assistance and compare plans.

Insurances have different enrollment periods, so you can only buy a specific type of health insurance during certain times of the year. For example, for this year, the enrollment closed on March 31st and the enrollment for 2015 will be open until February 15, 2015.

The main reason the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law was to address the already infamous national health care crisis and to make health insurance much more affordable and available for all those Americans who are still uninsured (the numbers reach about 44 million).

Again, ObamaCare requires all American citizens to do one of the three things: either purchase a Private Health Care plan, or get an exemption or pay a tax penalty. All Americans who can’t afford health insurance will qualify or Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP or get some sort of assistance through the Health Insurance Exchanges. If with the help of that assistance, a person still cannot afford health insurance, then they can be exempted from the Individual Mandate.

10 Important Health Benefits of ObamaCare

All Qualified Health Insurance Plans simply must include the following benefits:

  • Outpatient services (these include visits to the doctor and tests that are done outside of hospitals)
  • Emergency services
  • Pregnancy and baby care
  • Hospital stays
  • Mental health services (including behavioral health treatment)
  • Substance abuse services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehab to those who recover from an accident or injury
  • Lab tests
  • Wellness and preventive services (including chiropractic care)
  • Dental and vision services for children only

Other Benefits Include:

  • All Americans will have easy to understand explanations of their insurance coverage
  • The premiums will not vary with health or gender, which it had until now.
  • Free preventive care
  • No limits on lifetime or total annual benefits (if you need expensive treatment, you will not have to worry about running out of insurance cover anymore)
  • Acceptance is guaranteed with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions

ObamaCare Myths

One of the most popular ObamaCare myths is that it creates health insurance. Well, ObamaCare does not create health insurance, it simply regulates the health insurance industry and works towards increasing the affordability, availability and quality of private insurance. It also improves and expands public health insurance, such as Medicaid, Medicare and CHIP and it does this by creating new rules for insurance companies and expanding eligibility to tens of millions of US citizens, improving Medicare ad implementing a Marketplace where Americans can purchase regulated and subsidized health insurance.

Another ObamaCare myth is that you absolutely have to use the health insurance Marketplace! This is completely wrong and it is merely a myth. If you like your current insurance, you can very well keep it! If you have a Government-based insurance (such as CHIP, Medicare or Medicaid), you can also keep that. You should know that the Marketplace is for US citizens who do not like their current insurance plan!

Is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act clearer now? What are your thoughts on ObamaCare? Share them with us!


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theory of relativity

There are certain aspects of science that simply cannot be denied, no matter how much some people might try to deny them. For example, there are some people today that deny the fact that the earth is round. As insane as that may sound, know that we’re being completely serious! There is a Flat Earth Society that was founded in 1956 and it is still going strong. If you’re willing to ignore such madness, then you, like the majority of intelligent people, accept some things as being true. But when you do that, you also need to know a little bit about what you’re believing to be true, to have a clue about what goes on around you. Understanding some basic concepts of science will help you to better understand the world in which you’re living in, and even yourself.

The theory of relativity, discovered by Albert Einstein, lays as the basis of modern science. With its help, important scientific breakthroughs have been made and since its discovery, we’ve learnt a lot about our solar system, the Universe and the way things world around us.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the simplified version of the theory of relativity, a type of theory of relativity for dummies. We’ll explain the famous mc2 equation, learn about the theory and have some of its basic concepts explained.

The theory of special relativity was published by Einstein in 1905. The theory of relativity is actually two theories that Albert Einstein discovered: general relativity and special relativity. There are three main things that you should know in order to understand this theory:

  1. Space and Time should always be considered in relation to each other. One influences the other, which is something that before Einstein was completely foreign.
  2. The speed of light is always constant for all observers.
  3. Space contracts and time dilates and measurements of various objects and quantities are relative to the velocity of their observers.

What makes Einstein’s process of discovering the theory pretty amazing is the fact that he simply assumed everything he discovered was true. During those times, the physicists were doing the complete opposite, they thought that the results had failed and their theories were correct. Einstein thought his results were correct and that his theory failed.

The most important thing that Einstein’s theory of relativity did, aside from setting the base for modern science, is that it unified time and space. The universe in which we live can be seen as having three dimensions: forward and backward, left and right and up and down and one single time dimension, the space and time continuum.

In other words, if you move fast through a space, what you learn about and see of that space and time differs from the observations made by other people who are moving at different speeds through the same space.

In a nutshell, time slows down as objects approach the speed of light, when measured by someone who is not moving. Also, as objects approach the speed of light, they will measure shorter than if the objects were not moving with respect to the person observing.

Think about it, you’re sitting on the side of the road and you’re watching the cars drive by; the faster they go, the shorter they appear to be. The faster the car goes, the slower the time will pass for the driver when compared to the bystander’s time.

The famous E = mc^2, tells us how E (energy) equals M (mass) and C (speed of light). Keep in mind that mass is not the same as weight, as weight is affected by gravity, while mass is not. If you were to measure your weight in outer space, you would weigh next to nothing.

In short, Einstein found that as an object approached the speed of light, its mass increased. The faster an object goes, the heavier it gets. Until Einstein discovered this theory, because we should view this as a discovery and not as an invention, mass and energy were two concepts that were viewed separately.

For more information about the theory of relativity, time travel and the universe or if you’ve got kids whom you would like to introduce to science, we strongly recommend Stephen Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time. Find it online, in MOBI or PDF format or in bookstores.

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Last winter season, in 2013, nail polishes were all about the darks. Black was the king and of the nail polish colors and burgundy, its queen. This season is the season to be jolly and glittery! All the big brands have released their Christmas colors and shades and it’s pure madness. If you have trouble picking a brand, we are here to answer your question about the best nail polish brands. Here are our thoughts on this.

Best Nail Polish Brands

There are hundreds of nail polish brands out there, but our favorite and the best nail polish brands are the following ones:

best nail polish samoan sand

  • Opi – this company has around 200 different shades with extremely funky names. I’m not really a waitress is their most famous shade of red and one of Jennifer Lopez’s favorites. Also, the best nude nail polish ever comes from Opi: Samoan Sand. It’s a perfect neutral, nude color that looks natural on both fair and dark skin. Their pink and white shades are wonderful!
  • Zoya – Zoya is right there with Opi. Their 2014 Winter Pixie Dust collection is absolutely magnificent and we can’t recommend it enough; try the Imogen shade if you want something completely unique. Zoya also make good clear and gold colors.
  • Essie – Essie does great classic nail colors. If you want a great solid color that is both fashionable and sturdy, Essie is top choice. They have over 300 colors to choose from, so we recommend you have a thing or two in mind when our shopping for Essie nail polish.
  • Tom Ford – Tom Ford nail polishes are some of the best there are, if not the best. You can almost forget that they cost a ton of money! The Tom Forde matte nail polishes will transform your nails and the best place to buy Tom Ford nail polishes is online.
  • Chanel – Chanel makes expensive but great nail polishes. Their forte is metallic shades, so if you want something special for this New Year’s Eve, we suggest short nails and two coats of a dark, metallic Chanel polish.

Best Drugstore Nail Polish Brands

The Tom Ford nail polish is way too expensive for the average Joe, around $30! It’s a nice splurge that makes sense once a year or so, but if you want to have all the trendy summer colors, you will need to turn to drugstore brands. Nothing but good news! Because these days, the drugstore nail polishes are pretty great and even comparable to the big names’ ones. Our top picks for drugstore nail polishes come from Rimmel London (the 60 Seconds edition rocks) and Revlon. From the colors to the brush, these two brands are perfect!

Nail Polish Remover

One of the best nail polish remover is the one for Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover. It’s nontoxic and it will remove every shred of nail polish from your nails. As you can see in the picture below, you simply insert your finger into the bottle, keep it there for only one second and when you take it out, there is no nail polish on your nail. It’s quite impressive and we suggest you give it a try!

best nail polish bourjois nail polish remover

The Perfect Manicure

If you want to try giving yourself a manicure, we suggest you first watch a couple of YouTube videos about how to approach it and then put together a basic home manicure kit. This should include the following tools and nail polishes: a cuticle cream, a cuticle removal tool (either an orange stick or small scissors, but if you’re just starting out we recommend you simply peel back your cuticles, instead of cutting them), a nail file, a base coat, a top coat and three or four nail polishes. You need one black, one red, a nude and a crazy color, such as a neon green. With these four, you can give yourself manicures for every occasion.

One of the best top coat nail polish is the Finishing Touch 3D Plumping Top Coat from Rimmel London. It is cheap as dust and incredibly good. The 3D system will make your nails look plump and thick and it will act as a no chip protective coat. It also does a good job of strengthening your nail, so that it doesn’t break as easy. If you can spare a few more bucks, then we recommend the Opi top coat, it’s also pretty amazing.

If you’re interested in more advanced nail polish techniques, such as water color nail art or gel nails, we suggest you don’t try them at home, unless you are prepared with nerves of steel and plenty of nail polish remover. There are certain things that should be left to the professionals!

What is your favorite nail polish brand?

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Rollercoaster rides are extremely fun for both young and old. They’re the closest we can get to feel the thrill of riding inside a space rocket or a race car without actually being in any of them. They give you the adrenaline you want and need to make the ride memorable and fun. But then, there are the roller coaster accidents that, while rare, are extremely horrific. They can make a person think twice about the safety and overall appeal of these fast and furious railroad systems.

Here are some of the most notorious roller coaster accident cases in the history of the world that will definitely make you reconsider that cool ride you were planning to take next year at any Six Flags Park.

Mindbender, Galaxyland Amusement Park (West Edmonton Mall), Edmonton, Alberta

roller coaster

Three people lost their lives, one lost his legs, and dozens suffered minor injuries on June 14, 1986, after four bolts came loose on the Mindbender. It is one of the most notorious roller coaster accident cases in history.

Big Dipper, Battersea Park Fun Fair, England

roller coaster

On May 30, 1972, five children succumbed to death and 14 others suffered serious injuries after the rope that hauled the wooden Big Dipper snapped and the roller coaster started rolling back. The anti-rollback break didn’t work and the chains of cars barreled back. As such, this unfortunate event was due to a series of accidents.

Wild Wonder, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, New Jersey

roller coaster

Another fatal accident happened on August 28, 1999, when a woman and her eight-year-old daughter were killed, and two others ended up with injuries. This happened after a roller coaster lost traction the moment it approached the peak and plunged 30 feet backward at fastest speed into a curve.

Batman, Six Flags Theme Park, Georgia, United States

roller coaster

One of the worst and most horrible roller coaster accidents in the United States took place on June 29, 2008. This was when a teen boy was decapitated after he entered a restricted area. An active roller coaster hit the child at a speed of 50 miles per hour.

Space Journey, Overseas China Town East Theme Park, Southern China

roller coaster

Space Journey in China is a little bit more than a simple roller coaster. It is supposed to give you the feeling of being launched into space in a rocket. It sounds pretty exciting, but on June 29, 2010, one of the 12 cabins became loose and collided with the rest of the cabins. During the collision, several cabins with people inside them fell 50 feet to the ground. A total of 40 people were inside the cabins when this incident took place. Six people were killed, and dozens were injured.

Xcelerator Roller Coaster, Knott’s Berry Farm, United States

roller coaster

Another notable recent accident is the one at the Knott’s Berry Farm. This is where a cable from the Xcelerator snapped, sending pieces of debris flying in the air. Thankfully, nobody died, but Kyle Wheeler, a 12-year-old boy, had his left leg badly injured during the incident. He’s undergone multiple surgeries since then to repair the damaged tissue in his leg.

The boy’s father, Russel, was sitting next to him when the accident happened, and he was also injured. In 2013, another incident took place at the same venue; then, a cable snapped again during the launch of a ride with the Xcelerator, but fortunately, nobody was hurt. Video footage and pictures of the first accident exist on YouTube and the web.

Beware of Hoaxes!

A viral video entitled shocking video footage of a roller coaster accident at the Universal Studios Orlando amusement park has been making the rounds on the Internet recently. The video is actually a hoax, a fake and it is actually not a video at all. It is malware that is going to damage your computer if you click or download it. So, if you see any videos called (Shocking Video Footage) 18 “Dead in shocking roller coaster accident” do not download it, play it or engage in any way with it.

Minor accidents happened with other famous roller coasters, such as the Griffon, the Mindbender (Six Flags over Georgia). Some roller coasters at Disneyland, in Arlington, Texas, and California or at the Superman: Ride of Steel, the Stratosphere in Las Vegas and at Kings Island have also encountered technical issues.

If this article scared you a little, know that statistics are on your side. According to them, the risk of getting hurt while riding a roller coaster is very small. Still, when riding any kind of ride in an amusement park, make sure you follow the instructions and take all the safety measures you can. Your life depends on it. A second option is to dive into simulation games with 3D technology for instance. These offer a safer way to experience such thrills.

Image source:  1, 2, 3, 45, 6

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The world loves crossword puzzles, and whether you personally like them or not, this type of puzzle still remains one of the most popular games and past times in the world. Whenever you don’t know what else to do to kill a half an hour or so, you try your hand at an online crossword puzzle hub, and as boring as it may sound for those with a more explosive party life, an evening of crossword puzzles at home with friends can sometimes beat any other plan. Moreover, researchers say that solving crossword puzzles is one of the few stimulating activities that can help keep debilitating mental illness at bay, such as Alzheimer’s. Other such tasks to keep your mind active and at bay from disease are Sudoku puzzles or learning a foreign language. Or, why not, training your mind on how to lucid dream. But for all its positive effects and popularity, one question may have crossed your mind (pun not intended): who was the crossword inventor and how did this puzzle reach its current form?

The answer to this question is that Arthur Wynne is considered to be the inventor of the modern crossword puzzle, with the note that his version isn’t one hundred percent identical to the crosswords you may encounter today. But before moving on to detailing the life and work of Arthur Wynne, the crossword inventor, let us clarify the basic notion of what a crossword puzzle actually is. Traditionally, a crossword puzzle is considered any word puzzle in the shape of a square or a rectangle grid, composed of white and black shaded squares. The black ones are used to separate the words within the puzzle, while the white ones are theoretically meant to be used for writing down the words, after you guess them. You get the answers by solving clues, and then proceed to fill in the puzzle from left to right and from top to bottom, if you’re solving a crossword designed in a language with a left-to-right-style of writing.

Arthur Wayne – The Crossword Inventor

Arthur Wynne, the crossword inventor

Arthur Wynne, the crossword inventor

Arthur Wynne was a British-born American immigrant who lived between 1871 and 1945. He was born in Liverpool but immigrated to the United States when he was 19, settling in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region for a while, where the played the violin in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and worked on the Pittsburgh Press newspaper. Later, he moved to New York and continued his career in the press by working at the New York World newspaper. His work focused on creating the “Fun” pages for the Sunday edition of the newspaper, which eventually led to him having the inspiration to create the crossword puzzle.

This groundbreaking moment came in 1913, when Arthur Wynne created a word puzzle in the shape of a diamond with a hollow center and the word “FUN” already filled in (pictured below), thus effectively making him the crossword inventor. The game was called by its creator a “word-cross puzzle”, and even if the world rearranged its name, the puzzle is being constructed after the same principles as the ones from its beginnings. The name change is actually somewhat ironical, considering that it was actually due to a typesetting error, just a few weeks after the puzzle was initially published. Nevertheless, this was hence the name under which the world came to know it, right up to the popularity the puzzle enjoys today.

The first crossword puzzle

The first crossword puzzle

Theoretically, Arthur Wynne’s puzzle was indeed based on some earlier forms of word puzzles (such as the word diamond), but he introduces some innovation that radically transformed the very idea of a word puzzle. For example, the use of vertical and horizontal lines as boxed to fill in the letters in was unheard of until him. Also, the use of black squares, displayed symmetrically, meant to separate the words in columns and rows, is also an innovation he pioneered as the modern crossword inventor. Only the numbering scheme proposed by him was left behind in the structure of modern crossword puzzles, but other than that, the whole concept of the game you enjoy killing time with is owed to this quirky newspaper columnist from the early 20th century.

His popular invention was honored in 2013, at the 100 years anniversary, with a Google doodle featuring a puzzle by Merl Reagle. Numerous other puzzle creators submitted tribute puzzles to the memory of Arthur Wynne, the crossword inventor. A century later and counting, the delightful creation of a newspaper man continues to entertain people all over the world, right in the same league with the alternative popular past times such as mass television or sharing jokes.

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Something about incredibly rich people never fails to fascinate us, which is why details about what exactly they own and how much they spend and on what are always in demand. Nevertheless, this type of inquiry doesn’t have as much to do with sheer curiosity or the lowest grade of celebrity gossip, but it is also a vital ingredient to maintaining transparency, the key to any functional democracy. The general public must always be aware of how riches are divided amongst the very rich, just as it must be aware of what our tax money is spend on, even though that’s a different matter. Among the very rich, the ladies don’t yet hold as much space as the men, but there are still plenty of super-rich women in the world, such as Oprah, whom we recently covered. But how about famous singers: how much is Madonna net worth? Have you wondered how much is this iconic singer worth and why isn’t she on the Forbes list of the richest?



To put it simply, Madonna simply isn’t that rich to be granted entry on the Forbes list. Madonna’s net worth was estimated at $500 million in June 2013, putting her on the Forbes 400 list, but nowhere near the top 100 richest people in the world. After June 2013, Madonna reached a net worth of $ 1 billion, grating her first-time billionaire status. Considering that the main source of the singer’s wealth is her music and concerts, it’s understandable why she didn’t make that much more with it, though $1 billion are not a trivial sum, of course. Much of how much is Madonna net worth was actually made between June 2012 and June 2013, during her MDNA tour, which earned her a staggering $125 million.

Born on August the 16th 1958 in Bay City (Michigan), Madonna Louise Ciccone moved to New York in her 20s to pursue a dancing career, and ended up making it big on the music scene instead. Her most notorious hit, that brought her into the spotlights of international attention, was “Like a Virgin” (1985), but her stable success was established earlier, in 1982, when she managed to sign with Sire Records (part of Warner Bros. Records) for her debut album (titled simply “Madonna”). After this, her career took wings and, unlike in most cases of pop sensations, her career continued to soar even as decades passed. If Madonna is known for a defining trait, then that trait is definitely her versatility and the amazing capacity of reinventing herself.

Madonna Net Worth

Madonna Spending

  • Besides personal spending on homes or lavish lifestyle choices, Madonna is known for contributing her earnings to charity to support causes she believes in. In 2014, after visiting her hometown in Detroit and witnessing the poor state the city is currently in, she announced she is planning to invest into three charities to help out the city. The exact sum which will be delivered hasn’t been made public yet, but we’re all glad to see the Madonna net worth put to good use.
  • Madonna’s Manhattan “apartment” is actually a four-story Georgian-style townhouse which the singer reportedly bought for $40 million. It is one of the widest and most glamorous houses on the Upper East Side, and it’s only one of the properties which Madonna owned and bought over the years.
  • Another Georgian-style property is her Ashcombe house, used as a retreat by the singer and her family. Madonna bought this house in 2001 for the sum of $15 million, drawn to the unique British charm of this mid-eighteen century house which was originally part of a much bigger structure (it’s actually only the eastern wing of the original building). The house was bought in 2001, when the total Madonna net worth was much lower than it is today, so her properties and spending just kept going upwards.

Madonna Earnings

  • Her top-earning event was the MDNA tour in 2012, which earned her a gross value of $305.2 million from 88 sold-out shows. The net earnings received from this tour were then estimated at $125 million, making it the highest-grossing tour of 2012 and the tenth-earning tour of all time.
  • The MDNA album released the same year was sold in 1.8 million copies, earning her a net amount of $3.5 million.
  • Throughout her career, Madonna has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide.
  • Besides the royalties earned from her music, which make up the bulk of her income, Madonna also boosts her fortune by the few clothing and perfume lines which she put her name to. As for investing into business, so far Madonna has invested a bit in art, in real estate and in the beverage company Vita Coco, and these moves are certainly contributing to increasing her financial status as well.

Psst! Looking for an update on Madonna’s net worth for 2016? We’ve made a separate article about that right here.

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Something about highly coveted and lavish homes fascinates all of us, we’re sure, and many times questions that pop in our head are along the lines of “What’s the most expensive house in the world?” and such. But an equally fascinating topic is the one of well-kept historical homes, which have the ability to transport you into a bygone era as soon as you step foot in them. They’re not in a competition for the world’s most extravagant or lavish house (though some of them can get quite pricey), but their value of architectural jewels and historical landmarks makes them nearly invaluable. Without further ado, here is our selection of personal staff favorites of historic homes for sale in late 2014, which we definitely think deserve a second glance. Whether you’re looking to buy one or you simply want to feast your eyes on a little marvel, do enjoy our top.

1. The Johannes Luyster House in Middletown, NJ

Johannes Luyster house

Johannes Luyster house

This house was built in circa 1711 by some of the oldest Dutch settlers in the area and is a pinnacle of American-Dutch colonial culture, especially given how wonderfully preserved it is. The house’s core has changed very little in 300 years, and the view, facing south, was witness to Holland Road, the main avenue through the “New Holland” of New Jersey. Living here probably makes you feel like you’re in pre-Independence Sleepy Hollow (NY). This home is perfectly well-kept, with a modern finish interior (and a kitchen equipped with anything your heart may desire), with the original old windows to the east (remarkably wide for the time) and the slightly later-set windows to the west. It has 2698 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, as well as an original wall painting by Dutch painter David van Brackle. The two main rooms also have a brick fireplace each, which means you can burn a log inside on chilly nights for great atmosphere. The home is currently priced at $567,000: this isn’t a top of the most expensive homes in the world, but still, it doesn’t mean historic homes for sale come too cheap either.

You can find more info on the house here.

2. A Gingerbread Home in Gardiner, Maine

The gingerbread house

The gingerbread house

Gardiner is a small city near Portland, very close to the fjord-like coast of Maine, and this gingerbread house would be reason enough to move there, from our point of view at least. It looks simply gorgeous, it has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, and it’s also incredibly cheap for such a beautiful and also historic home: only $125,000 to buy it. The size of the town probably explains the low price. The house was built in circa 1895 and it’s a masterpiece of gothic revival. It’s one of the best finds of historic homes for sale this year.

You can find more info on the house here.

3. Neoclassical 2-Story Home in Walhalla, South Carolina

A South Carolina jewel

A South Carolina jewel

This is a gorgeous jewel of the Old Colonial South that is just bound to get you in the atmosphere of pretty manners and ball gowns etc. You don’t need to go all the way to Charleston, New Orleans Louisiana, Ohio, Mississippi or Alabama for all that! If you’d like to enter the Gone with the Wind atmosphere for at least a day – well, minus the plantation – then make an effort to visit this house in SC at least. It has two stories, 7 bedrooms, 7 baths, 9 fireplaces and a swimming pool; and was built in circa 1886. It’s priced at $675,000 but it also includes the period’s furniture and decorations (which you can admire in the picture above).

You can find more info on the house here.

4. A Queen Anne Victorian Home in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

A Queen Anne Victorian home

A Queen Anne Victorian home

If the Victorian style is what you’re interested in, then this jewel may be the prettiest thing you’ve admired all year. This huge single-family home was built in circa 1909 and comes with 5 bedrooms, 4 baths and a gorgeous porch, for $580,000. It also includes completely redesigned interiors, a beautiful yard and a garage, as well as 2 fireplaces and a two-story stairwell that’s absolutely stunning. It’s only minutes away from several education landmarks, and also very close to the city’s center.

You can find more info on the house here.

5. The Oldest Home for Sale in Savannah (GA)

The oldest home for sale in Savannah

The oldest home for sale in Savannah

The historic district of Savannah is one of the best places to look for those interested in historic homes for sale, and this one is simply the oldest on that list. It was constructed in 1802 and, while not being particularly large (with only 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths), it actually sums up to 3,000 square feet of living space, with a lavish dining room and a family room (less formal than the dining). It has two stories and it retains much of its original inner and outer features. The house can be bought for $795,000, but if you’re interested in just admiring historic homes for sale, do remember to take a tour of it the next time you visit Georgia and particularly the historic district of Savannah.

You can find more info on the house here (bottom of the page).

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The Day of the Dead celebrated all across the South American continent, and in various parts of the United States as well, thanks to their large Hispanic communities, may seem a bit ghastly to outsiders. Sure, the Western world (well, the United States to be more precise – especially in the Los Angeles area) has Halloween as well, but nowadays this holiday has transformed more into a chance to wear sexy costumes than into a spooky celebration. To understand this celebration better, let’s take a deeper look into the history of its pagan roots, beyond the skull tattoos or creepy skull makeup and costumes.

The Aztecs Celebrated Day of the Dead First

Rituals celebrating the dead ancestors have been observed in pre-Colombian civilizations (namely, the Aztecs) for as long as 3000 years before the Spanish invaders. They too involved skulls in their celebrations, usually the skulls kept as trophies, displayed during important rituals. But things weren’t as spooky as they sound: they also had plenty of party and themed food to go with the celebration: the ninth month of the Aztec calendar (starting more or less in the beginning of what we call August) coincided with a month-long festival meant to honor the dead.



What little facts have survived about the Aztec culture indicate that the festival held in late summer was dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the Lady of the Dead. She was a benevolent ruler figure of the Underworld, similar in a way to the Ancient Greek Persephone. The Aztec goddess next was next revived under a slightly different form as Catrina (pictured above), the modern skeleton woman that presides over the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and beyond. Catrina was originally painted by Jose Guadalupe Posada sometime between 1910 and 1913, and today images of her are everywhere, and mask designs emulating her look are proudly worn by women and girls in every Day of the Dead celebration.

Once the Spanish days began and the Aztec civilization was pretty much gone, that didn’t involve waving good-bye to all of the former traditions. This festival of honoring the dead was among the best-preserved holidays, possibly because the new Christian religion brought by the Spanish has a strong ancestor cult as well.

Day of the Dead Traditions in Mexico and Latin America

On the Day of the Dead, celebrated today on October 31, November 1 and 2, people in Mexico get together and prepare themed candles, trinkets, special foods (like Pan de Muertos, a special bread-cake, or little sugar skulls) and offer them on the graves of their deceased relatives. They also place these items in their homes (at little altars) and share them with friends and neighbors. Many of the consumables are offered to kids, since they have more of a sweet tooth than adults, and they also are believed to have a special relationship with the spirits of deceased children, angelitos (“little angels”). In the areas that observe this holiday, you can see whole families walking to the graveyard to offer these gifts to their loved ones who had passed away, and then returning to town to celebrate. You can even see a wedding taking place during the festivities, from time to time.

But what is most remarkable in the Mexican festivities is that many people use this time of the year to express their creative ideas in the festival-related art activities. You can, for example, wear an elaborate Catrina-inspired costume or paint your face, or get a temporary tattoo and so on. (You can easily find a diy tutorial on the internet for all of these, explaining how to paint your face or make a costume or masks, in case anyone is interested).

Speaking of Day of the Dead-inspired art, Sylvia Ji is an artist that became especially known for her paintings portraying a girl with skeleton make-up. You can browse some of her pictures and drawings here. If you’re interested in exploring the foods traditional to this celebration, you can find an accurate collection of recipes here.

Beyond everything else, what we should understand about this holiday is the fact that the Day of the Dead is first and foremost a celebration of life. In spite of its gory symbols and decorations, and in spite of its present-day consumerism (with its Hollywood-like sexy costumes and over-shopping for candy), this celebration’s meaning is honoring life and living in the now, by remembering that we are mortal and the ancestors behind us were once living people. The Day of the Dead is the pre-Colombian world’s own Carpe Diem (Seize the day).

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If you’ve heard about it (and you probably did since you’ve looked for this page), then the prospect sounded so good that there wouldn’t be any reason not to want to experience this yourself. To dream about almost anything you want to, to be able to stir your dreams into the right direction, to keep anything unpleasant or nightmare-like at bay and to get the maximum satisfaction out of your dreams – who wouldn’t want this? The answer to this question is yes, you can, but only within certain limitations and on certain conditions. So, if you’ve been wondering yourself about how to lucid dream easily, here is everything you should know on the topic.

How to lucid dream

How to lucid dream

First of all, you should know that you can’t learn how to lucid dream as instantly as snapping your fingers, so as much as you want it to, it won’t happen tonight. Any online resources telling you otherwise and promising immediate results are probably commercial scams, according to the science behind lucid dreaming. You can’t achieve it from the first night you try it (unless you’re incredibly lucky, but it will have more to do with chance than with your ability to control or induce it). Therefore, there will be no lucid dreaming without constant training, unfortunately; but the good news is that you can learn how to lucid dream fairly fast if you practice every night. Beginners usually manage to train their brains to lucidly dream in a matter of weeks, as long as they maintain the routine and their focus.

How to Lucid Dream in 3 Steps

Stop fretting about it, it’s no use going to bed too anxious and obsessing over “How can I get to the lucid dreaming?” Instead, try to enter a more relaxed state of mind; all credible sources on how to lucid dream agree that one cannot achieve the appropriate mental stance unless completely relaxed. Then, apply these 3 steps:

  1. Practice dream recall – As often as possible, try to recall as many details about a dream you just had and note them down into a special notebook. Even if you just woke up in the middle of the night. If you want to get to lucid dreaming, first you have to start by recalling what you dreamt about as vividly as possible. Only then you will make your mind be gradually more and more aware of its dreaming processes and you’ll be able to intuitively know how to lucid dream.
  2. Take naps often, and remind yourself during the day that you’re conscious – According to several psychologists and parapsychologists that became experts on how to lucid dream, the goal is to train your mind to be more comfortable and more aware of its consciousness both in dream-time and in awake-time. Begin by practicing “reality-probing”, which means reminding yourself that you are aware and conscious of your surroundings several times during the day. This will become a habit easy to resume while dreaming. Also, take naps: napping allows the brain to enter the REM-state (Rapid Eye Movement phase) easier, and dreams only happen during this period. Also, it seems that something about the interruption of sleep makes the borders between reality and dreams to become blurred, making it easy to delve into lucid dreaming.
  3. Try listening to lucid dream-inducing sounds (binaural beats) – Some scientists claim that a certain type of sound effects called binaural beats are able to put the listener into a state similar to an out-of-body-experience, or to induce lucid dreaming. While the opinions on the matter are still divided, there’s no harm in trying to listen to a relaxing audio file of that sort, and Youtube is full of videos specifically meant to help people interested in how to lucid dream. Let one play on low volume – they’re usually around 60 minutes long – and try to go to sleep, still being aware of that fact you’re dreaming. You’ll be well on your way to wild and beautiful dreams in no time, while still remaining behind the wheel.

As long as you keep trying to apply these steps as part of your going to bed routine, you’ll surely succeed in a matter of weeks, and you’ll get your own version of Waking Life in no time (but in a good way). Learning how to lucid dream isn’t as much a matter of magic or mystery, as it’s a matter of learning how to master and discipline your mind and make it follow your wishes. Once you get the hang of it, it should be easy.

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The Baroque era was a highly creative period which birthed some of the world’s most beautiful music, as well as outstanding architecture, literature and dance. Its main characteristics are opulence, exaggerated motion and drama and a passion for detail, except that the details are crystal clear and easy to interpret and admire. This major artistic current started around the year 1600 in Rome, Italy and then extended all over Europe (helped by the fact that the aristocracy and Catholic Church supported it). Even though this period’s highlights happened more than 300 years ago, the world still swoons over the baroque style, and especially after its best music composers. When it comes to classical music, the current is considered to have rendered some of the most valuable composers to this date. In the following lines, we will present you with a short list of the top 10 baroque composers really worth knowing about (and listening to).

1. Johann Sebastian Bach


Baroque composers

Probably the most famous composer on this list (and one of the most famous composers ever), Bach was a German composer who was born during a time when the Baroque current had already started, but he managed to bring it to its heights, in spite of his foreignness. You will notice that most Baroque composers were Italian, which makes sense considering that the movement started in Rome. In this context, the fact that Bach was the best of them all even starting out as an outsider says a lot about his genius. His key instruments were the keyboard, the organ and the harpsichord.

2. Antonio Vivaldi

Another great composer you probably already know was Vivaldi, an Italian musical genius who was strangely discovered pretty late into modernity, around the 1930s. Even though he didn’t live to see his works appreciated at full value in his own time, this guy really enjoyed making his music. He composed over 500 concertos in early Baroque swing, and his best known works are his “Seasons”. Please give them a listen as soon as possible, and start with Spring (“La Primavera”).

3. George Frideric Handel

He was born in the same year as Bach (1685) and he was from a small town just 50 miles away from him. He managed to achieve the same success as his colleague in his musical career, and he became a British citizen later in life. Eventually, he created the famous English oratorio. The world now considers the works of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi to be the main pillars of Baroque classical music.

4. George Philipp Telemann

Another German musician and good friend of both Bach and Handel, Telemann was known for incorporating unusual instruments into his concertos. The attendance to events playing his works was always high.

5. Henry Purcell

A composer with a tragic destiny (he died when he was 35), he was one of the best British composers of all time, not just of the Baroque era. He was very skilled with word-setting as well and therefore he composed very popular stage works.

6. Domenico Scarlatti

The son of yet another baroque composer, Domenico Scarlatti was a highly prolific musician and composed over 250 sonatas only in the last 6 years of his life. In total, he composed 555 throughout his entire career. One of the most popular works authored by him is The Fairy Queen.

7. Arcangelo Corelli

Yet another Italian composer, our next entry to the list was also a master violinist. In his time, the violin was a newly invented instrument and few composers except him were adept at integrating this beautiful new sound into their works. Needless to say, he excelled at it, which makes him one of the most influential and brilliant musicians of all time.

8. Jean-Philippe Rameau

The only French composer to have made it to our list, he was known for his very emotional approach to music and his harmonious lines. Rameau poured a lot of his efforts into the tragedie lyrique opera, a French genre of opera that put Classical mythology tales to music.

9. Giovanni Batista Sammartini

Or next Italian composer is one of the earliest authors of symphony, considered by experts to be a precursor to Mozart and Hayd. If you only listen to one work from his repertoire, make it his Sonata no 3, a masterpiece for the piano.

10. Johann Pachelbel

Pachelbel was the music teacher of Bach’s older brother, so he belonged to the older generation of Baroque composers. Nevertheless, Bach found great inspiration in his music and is said to have drawn a lot from his style.

If you enjoyed our briefing on the Baroque composers, we think you may also enjoy our article about Impressionist painters.

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The Salem Witch Trials have got to be one of the most interesting mysteries in history, with few facts truly known about them amidst the fiction and myths they inspired. While the trial themselves were known in their age as a messy string of events that led to a few ugly deaths and a notorious witch hunt started by the puritans in Salem MA, the aftermath of history made these events much more fascinating to our modern minds. In a way, it is perfectly understandable why this kind of a trial and its story would gain such an important place in our contemporary imagination, since it’s so troubling how different from us those people were, though they were theoretically some of “us”, and not from a distant strange land. In this article, we will present to you some facts about the Salem Witch Trials, a timeline of the event, as well as the most important modern fictional accounts about them.

Timeline of the Salem Witch Trials and Quick Facts

The events took place in colonial Massachusetts, on a Puritan religious background, stretching on a period of a bit over a year, between the fuzzy dates of February 1692 and May 1693. The aftermath of the trials included the execution and death of twenty people, most of them being women (since the puritans’ conception of witches portrayed them as women). The primary location was Salem Town, though the events and trials were divided between several towns and cities of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

  • The initial cause for the mass hysteria that followed was that two local kids, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams (related by blood to Rev. Samuel Parris) started having epileptic-like fits, in early 1692. Modern science indicated that these effects, similar to LSD overdoses, were actually caused by ergot poisoning (or ergotism). Soon, another girl, Ann Putnam, accused the same symptoms and blamed them on witchcraft. The fact that Ms. Putnam was involved is interpreted in some sources (books and articles) as evidence that the real cause was actually a family feud.
  • The next event was the accusation of Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and the slave girl Tituba (also held accountable for alleged poisoning) of being behind the young girls’ affliction. All of these women were seen as outsiders to Puritan culture for various reasons (one was a homeless beggar, one was a slave of different ethnic background, and one remarried with a questionable behavior).
  • Next, respectable people began to be arrested as well, even though they were members of the church and even the town council, based on very little evidence or just on the fact that they opposed the arrest of a family member. The wiki sources include on this list Rebecca Nurse, Mary Warren (herself one of the accusers), Bridget Bishop and others, as well as two men (John Proctor and Giles Corey).
  • After brief examining of the accusations, confessions and more names were obtained, sometimes through torture. According to historical documents (including a court transcription), this led to
  • Some of the people involved were John Alden (among the accused) and Rev. Cotton Mather, who were later portrayed in movies and fiction as important characters.
  • In August 1692, executions were already beginning to take place. The victims were sentenced to hanging, and one of them was pressed to death (Giles Corey, for refusing to plead guilty or not guilty).
  • During September, more hangings happened, but in October, the madness was reaching its end. The special court handling the trials was dissolved, and further information from the archives shows that even though another court was given a start in January, it only acquitted the accused or pardoned those found guilty. Most historical theories, based in part on a contemporary source such as the local Oregon newspaper and the court documents, indicate that external (national) pressure led to the mellowing down of the trails.

The Aftermath of the Trials

Multiple accounts and quotes of those turbulent times survived and have been used in various ways (whether for a documentary, a movie or a book). Whatever the reasons behind such a modern project, it’s quite clear that they all share a similar fascination in unveiling the secrets of the Salem Witch Trials. The event was not just another unsolved mystery of the past, but its significance lies in its value of warning to modern times: the warning of what happened when people allowed isolation and fanaticism get the best of them.

Among the causes that made this tragedy possible was also the so-called policy of McCarthyism, which by definition allows people to throw accusations of treason, disloyalty or subversion without much regard for evidence or plausibility. This is a state of mind that defines archaic societies, in contrast to contemporary ones, where the well-being of the individual theoretically is held in higher regard. The theater play The Crucible (by Arthur Miller) managed to compare this doctrine to the witch trials, for the famous first time.

The Salem Witch Trials in Fiction and Non-Fiction

While the topic of the trials is definitely dead-serious and not a topic of fun and games, it also led to them bearing a fascination that made them a focus for education-related videos or fictionalized tales. To the date, there have been a lot of works featuring this historic event, covering every form of expression, whether it is an essay, a play, a magazine piece or a game. Our list of must-sees and must-reads includes:

  • The National Geographic documentary and the Discovery Channel documentary (in the realm of non-fiction).
  • Salem TV Show (2014), based on the biography of a fictional witch character, Mary Sibley, and her lover, John Alden. You can watch a trailer for the first season here, if you’d like. (The main photo featured above is the show’s poster.)
  • The Salem Witch Trials movie of 2012, featuring Kirstie Alley as Ann Putnam.
  • The Salem Witch Museum exhibition, featuring a lovely interactive video and lots of reconstituted pictures of the events (beyond a mere powerpoint or summary which you might expect).
  • You can also visit the memorial in Salem for all the people who have died during the trials.
  • The computer game Midnight Mysteries – where your detective skills are put to good use vs. witches – featured a chapter dedicated to the Salem Witch Trials (here is a walkthrough, by the way, in case you are curious).
  • Also like a game is a webquest series with an educational purpose, created by The National Geographic, where the students have to find clues about the Salem Witch Trials in order to solve the mystery.

We hope you enjoyed our rather long article about this regrettable event and that you found the answers you were looking for, as well as plenty of fun recommendations of movies and games to explore. All in all, it seems that the Salem Witch Trials is still an inspiring topic to this date, judging by the recent shows and so on dedicated to the subject.

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Oprah Winfrey needs no introductions, whether you like her shows and appearances or not, it’s impossible not to be familiar with this television celebrity and media mogul. How much is she worth, have you ever wondered? The Oprah Winfrey net worth is reportedly at a level of 2.9 billion dollars, with an annual salary of over $300 million. This spectacular amount makes her not only one of the richest people in the world, but she has officially been declared one of the most influential people on the planet. Technically, she is the richest African-American of the 20th century, and the greatest black philanthropist in the entire American history. What makes her story pretty impressive – even if you’re not a fan of the shows she hosts or the overall media content she’s associated with – is the fact that she rose into this incredible position of today from a background of poverty, prejudice and childhood abuse.Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey was born on the 29th of January 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to an unmarried teenage mother, Vernita Lee, after a single sexual encounter with a coal miner named Vernon Winfrey who had been in the Armed Forces by the time Oprah was born. (Years later, another man claimed to be Oprah’s biological father, but the issue was never settled). Oprah got her first name after the biblical character of “Orpah” from the “Book of Ruth”, and this is the official version registered on her birth certificate, but people mispronounced it into “Oprah” and eventually the name stuck in this altered form. Oprah Winfrey’s first 6 years were spent in rural poverty with her maternal grandmother, who taught her to read before the age of three and took her along to church, where she would impress the audience. However, the same grandmother would hit her with a stick whenever Oprah failed to complete her chores and so on.

At age six, Oprah Winfrey moved back in with her mother, who proved to be even less supportive and nice to the young child than her grandmother was (partly due to her working long hours as a house maid). At age nine, Oprah was sexually molested by her cousin, her uncle and a family friend. She disclosed this to her family at age 24, but they failed to believe her, and then she disclosed it again on one of her 1986 TV shows, when the topic was sexual abuse. At 13 she ran away from home for a little while, at 14 gave birth to a boy who did not survive for long, and ended up living with Vernon (her father) during most of her teenage hood. He was strict, but he encouraged her education, and she already started to shine in dramatic interpretation and oratory activities.

Her troubled background should not be forgotten whenever the Oprah Winfrey net worth is discussed, but we mean that in an uplifting and positive way. Ever since her TV debut in 1983, Oprah has done nothing than to spite her humble origins and to basically change the face of modern television. Even if her shows aren’t exactly your cup of tea, you cannot help but admire this black woman for her courage and determination and for the way she managed to become the top-earning ubiquitous media figure she is today.

Oprah Winfrey Net Worth

Oprah Winfrey Spending

  • She is heavily involved in philanthropic projects, and much of her spending goes to various charities.
  • In May 2014, Oprah bought 60 acres of land near the Telluride Ski Resort for $10.85 million. She reportedly plans to build a house there.
  • In 2001, Oprah paid $52 million for Montecito estate in California, which she likes to call “The Promised Land”.
  • The media queen flies with her own private jet, a custom-designed Global Express XRS, worth $42 million.

Oprah Winfrey Earnings


  • Forbes named Oprah Winfrey the world’s only black billionaire from 2004 to 2006, and the first black woman billionaire in all history.
  • She earned $35,000 from the movie The Color Purple.
  • She currently makes $315 million a year from The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  • For other projects, she earned $82 million in 2014, $77 million in 2013, $165 million in 2012 and a staggering $290 million in 2011.


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Stories about dictatorship and totalitarian regimes which led to countless victims and horrific effects always seem to hold a morbid fascination over the public. While everyone certainly heard about Hitler and the Nazis, most of the times they still aren’t sure about who the worst dictators in history were, though the stories about these figures never cease their attraction. Whether it’s just for exploring the gory details of these oppressive times; or the biographical details of the dictator’s life in order to understand what makes someone so evil; or simply the political mechanisms that allow one person to gain so much power, this historical topic never seems to get old. Therefore, here is our experts’ answer to this question: what were the worst dictators in history?

1. Joseph Stalin


In terms of absolute numbers and figures, Joseph Stalin communist dictatorship was responsible for the killing of the most people, compared to all of the other totalitarian regimes which existed so far (and hopefully the world will not come to break this horrible record). Though it’s a bit insensitive to use the number of victims argument when comparing regimes (because it implies that a dictatorship with less victims was somehow better or milder forgetting that every human life is sacred and one crime is still a horrible crime), Stalin’s reign was responsible for the largest number of victims. The exact extent of the bloodshed isn’t precisely known, but expert calculations indicate over 20 million lives directly attributed to this regime, in addition to the 20-something million lives of Soviet soldiers dead in the war under Stalin’s orders. This total of over 40 million victims officially makes Stalin one of the worst dictators in history, and the absolute worst as far as numbers go.

2. Adolf Hitler


Contrary to popular belief, the Nazi regime wasn’t responsible for the largest number of killings, but its leader, Adolf Hitler, is definitely seen as the most prominent of the worst dictators in history. There are countless popular culture references to him, so many, in fact, that it’s hard to keep track of them all. What made Hitler’s regime so special and cringe-worthy was its ethnic cleansing program followed to such a large scale, alongside the regime’s Arian superiority thesis that made the Germans equivalent to the world’s master race. The details of all this are some of the best documented in all genocide cases we have experienced so far, so there are plenty of sources if you wish to delve into the matter deeper.

3. King Leopold II (of Belgium)


When you hear of a Western European monarch, you don’t normally think of one of the worst dictators in history, but of grace, sobriety, etiquette, lavishness and a general peaceful and diplomatic attitude. When it comes to King Leopold II, the lavishness which characterized his regime was one of the monstrous details we shouldn’t forget, and that’s because this luxury came at the expense of the Congolese people, which were at the time a Belgian colony. The king was the founder and the sole owner of the political construction known as the Congo Free State (and the irony of it all should be noted), and became known for exploitation and abuses of the people there at a rate which was outrageous even for those times (end of the 19th century). The death toll is estimated at 2 to 15 million people, but the mutilations and forced labor and other abuses that didn’t necessarily lead to death should not be taken out of the equation either. All in all, he definitely deserves a spot in this list of worst dictators in history, at least for the contrast between how he behaved as a ruler in his native country and how viciously brutal his reign was in the colony.

4. Mao Tse-Tung


The Chinese supreme leader associated with the Communist revolution of the country, Mao Tse-Tung is still officially regarded as an innovative visionary in China, and continues to bear the title and honors becoming of the country’s founding father. Even though his rule is controversial and known for at least some positive reforms (like promoting the status of women or initiating important healthcare and education reforms), he is still mostly regarded in the West as one of the worst dictators in history for the tens of millions of people who died during his reign. It has been argued that most of his victims weren’t direct executions, but results of famine or over-work, but it’s still monstrous how little regard Mao seemed to have on the number of people who have to die for every project he wanted to implement.

5. Pol Pot


One of the most shocking genocides of recent history was the one orchestrated by the Khmer Rouge group in Cambodia (1975-1979). There is more than one reason for which the genocide was so shocking to Western observers: partly because the world wanted to believe that this sort of thing isn’t possible anymore at such a short time after the Nazi regime, and partly because the brutality of the Cambodian genocide was simply astonishing. In many ways, the two regimes were similar: both wanted to purify the people in order to create a master race, and both were convinced they were doing their respective countries a ton of good. The Cambodian massacre led to the brutal death of 25% of the total population of the country, and the Prime Minister of the country, Pol Pot, was the evil master mind of it all. The details of the genocide were heartbreakingly documented in the documentary field The Killing Fields, and the horrors of it all make Pol Pot one of the worst dictators in history, right next to the rest presented above.

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610px-Claude_Monet_-_Graystaks_IFetured above: “Haystalks” (1890-1891), by Claude Monet.

If the history of art is a place that fascinates you but in which you’re not precisely at home, then this post may be just the thing for you. When it comes to paintings, the artistic movement which will come up most often during art-related conversations is impressionism and everyone seems to be highly impressed with impressionist painters (pun intended). Therefore, this is the main art movement you should get up to speed with, both for the sake of being prepared for the topic when it arises, and for the sake of your own general knowledge. Also, it’s one of the art movements you’re most probable to genuinely enjoy as well, so don’t dive into this just for the sake of not getting behind on the info.

What does impressionism mean and how did it appear?

As we were saying, impressionist painters enjoy an unusual popularity to this day, even though their day has passed for quite a while. This is because their style seems to be perfectly tailored to our current mainstream artistic sensibility: they were still classic enough for their paintings not to get too “ugly” or impossible to understand, but the roots of modernism were already gaining some strength in their play with abstract ideas and metaphors. To put it simply, when you see the works of impressionist painters, you can still recognize that it’s about a flowering field, but you can also see that they didn’t try to paint it too accurately, mainly focusing on the idea of a flowering field.

Historically, impressionism began around 1870-1880, towards the end of the 19thcentury, a period known for its turn from conventional classicism to a rather decadent view in art and in the life-style of the bohemian few. The term impressionism was coined by a critic who was being ironical of the movement, naming it such from a painting by Claude Monet titled “Impression, Sunrise”. In a break from traditional academic rules of painting, the early impressionist painters were instead creating an image with small but visible brush strokes, creating the illusion of movement and reflecting the viewer’s impression or idea of an object rather than an accurate depiction of the object itself.

What are the main impressionist painters one should know?

The movement itself debuted with the initiative of four young impressionist painters who discovered their mutual affinities and common interests during their studentship to form a group and start painting together. These four future impressionist painters were Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille, and their names are still some of the best known as representative of the movement. In fact, no list of impressionist painters could ever dream of starting without them. In their youth, this fantastic four of young painters would often take trips to the countryside to paint various sceneries, but instead of sketching something and then coloring the sketches in a studio back in town, they would paint directly in colors, in the direct sunlight, creating these visible brush strokes which became a trademark for the movement.

Though they were initially rejected by the mainstream, academia-driven art world, their art was gradually accepted, not without great struggle for the impressionist painters. Their group, which started out in France and only included French painters at first, eventually grew to include American sympathizers as well as a female painter (Mary Cassat) of American origin living in France. They never had much to gain financially from their impressionist paintings, but by the end of the century, the mainstream trends already adapted a diluted form and technique borrowed from impressionism. In the next century, post impressionism raised their works to the value of classics.

Besides the first four impressionist painters mentioned above, there are a few other famous artists associated with the movement, which tend to come up rather often in art conversations. These are Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet, Eugene Boudin and Camille Pissarro. While their styles were quite different and they couldn’t really agree on common art principles most of the time, what really united this eclectic group was their shared passion for rebelliousness and a taste for the challenging of established art rules. All in all, besides the technicalities and the wonderful abstract note of the art itself, this propensity for unconventional was, in truth, what impressionist painters were all about.

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To directly get to the point, let’s just answer this one directly: yes you can. You can learn to make iced coffee at home which is just as fancy and perfectly balanced as the ones served in places like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Coffee has many health benefits, but most of time, and especially during the warm season, hot coffee isn’t that appealing compared to a tall glass of iced coffee. It’s true that the cold variety tends to also be greatly enriched with calories from sugar, syrups, flavorings, cream or milk foam, but an occasional indulgence isn’t the end of the world. If you ever wondered how to make iced coffee at home like a pro, here is everything you need to know on the subject.

Hot Brewing Isn’t a Must for Making Iced Coffee

It’s perfectly fine to use cold brewing when making coffee at home, and then using the already cold coffee for making the iced coffee. If you haven’t tried cold brewing before, you should know that it’s regarded by many as being an even healthier version of coffee; while as far as taste is concerned the specialists view it as being not necessarily better or worse than the regular cup of joe. It’s true that cold brewed coffee loses some of the depth of flavor which hot coffee offers, but it’s also less bitter and less acidic, making it a better match for the creamy ingredients which go into an iced coffee.

If you’re wondering how to make iced coffee at home using a cold brew as the base, don’t worry, the whole process is very easy, it just takes a while since the coffee must be steeped for a long time before it will be ready. Here is a simple guide on it from the Smitten Kitchen. Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with starting with your go-to cup of mocha and waiting for it to cool.

You can Use a Coffee Brewer for Great Results, But Instant Coffee Is Also Ok

We’re betting you didn’t expect to hear this on the topic of how to make iced coffee at home like a pro. It’s true that the higher the quality of the coffee, the better it will taste, but that applies mostly to the Arabica versus Robusta choices of coffee. Arabica is the better tasting, but there are many varieties of Arabica instant coffee, so there’s no fret.

Also, using a filter or a French Press or a coffee brewer of any kind will of course yield better results than the instant version, but that applies mostly to hot coffee. Iced coffee is mixed with so many other ingredients, that it becomes closer to a smoothie or a desert than to actual coffee. So even if you don’t own a Keurig to make your hot coffee like a pro, you don’t need to worry about making iced coffee taste just like the one from a fancy coffee shop.

Experiment With the Flavorings

Besides the whipped cream or the ice cream float, flavorings are the best things that ever happened to iced coffee. Here’s how to make iced coffee at home with the best additions possible: try a few drops of vanilla extract per glass, or a dash of cinnamon, or a dash of nutmeg. Another great twist for those who are open to trying new things is the addition of ginger to iced coffee. When you’re using dry spices, you can add them directly to the dry ground coffee in order to include them in the brewing process and extract more flavor out of them. When using liquid extracts (like vanilla or a few drops of coconut extract or almond extract), stir them into the coffee base before pouring it into the glass.

Another thing to take into account is dropping a scoop of vanilla ice cream into the glass, instead of the ice cubes, or even using a blender to mix the ice-cream and the coffee together to a milkshake-like consistency. The result will earn you the title of an expert on how to make iced coffee at home.

You can also consider adding small amounts of flavored alcohol, like Amaretto (almond liquor), chocolate liquor, Bailey’s, hazelnut of even coffee liquor for a little extra taste. Finish up with a layer of milk foam or cream, and, optionally, top with shaved chocolate or grated orange zest. Your guests will surely be impressed. If you prefer a classic version instead of experimenting, you can try making an ethnic version of iced coffee. The Vietnamese and the Thai iced coffees are the most popular and easiest to make at home. Have fun and good luck.

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After presenting to you a brief piece on the health benefits of drinking tea, today it is coffee’s turn. Coffee drinking is probably one of the most common habits of adult humans all over the world, just as popular in the East as it has become in the West as well. This daily java habit or the daily cup of joe, as it is sometimes called, can still be a tricky concept, as it covers a multitude of average amounts ingested and of coffee drinking lifestyles. Not everyone drinks as much of the black miraculous energy drink, or in the same way (before a meal, after a meal, with sugar or milk or both, with plenty of water, with tea or instead of tea, next to a cake or not, and so on). Therefore, a list of the health benefits of coffee can only be accurate in particular cases if you remain mindful of these secondary factors as well.

How did coffee come to be so popular?

The energizing effects of coffee were first discovered and enjoyed starting with the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi shrines of Yemen, though not in an actual drink, as we consume it today. The monks of those shrines were required to maintain long vigils to the dawn, and they discovered that chewing coffee beans kept them awake easier, and they probably started enjoying the flavor pretty soon as well. It didn’t take long for them to discover that roasting the beans and grinding them can make them easy to brew in a drink with more intense effects.

From there, coffee has spread to the remainder of the Middle East and from there to Africa as well, and not before long, it gained a strong foothold in Europe. From Europe, the so called cradle of civilization, with the colonies, it was easy to be taken to the rest of the world, and it maintained a constant popularity through the centuries, in spite of several attempts to ban it for religious or political reasons. If you’re wondering if the people of those times were aware of coffee health benefits or if they were just drinking it for its taste and energizing properties, the answer is yes: the sources of medical advice were praising the health benefits of coffee and recommending the drink precisely in order to treat various ailments.

The main health benefits of coffee

Over time, scientific studies have suggested varied coffee health benefits or potentially harmful effects, with a certain degree of variability and inaccuracy. The more recent studies, however, seem to unanimously say that coffee has many desirable health perks and almost no drawback at normal dosage (more on that a bit below).

Before we move on to list the actual benefits you can expect from drinking coffee though, we should take into account the kind of coffee we’re talking about. The two main sources of coffee are Arabica and robusta, with the latter being slightly cheaper and regarded as inferior to the first. Although Arabica does indeed tend to taste smoother and less bitter than robusta, it should be noted that there is no significant difference between the coffee health benefits of each of them. Another kind of coffee which is intensely traded is green coffee (unroasted), which has some amazing health perks of its own, especially in support of weight loss diets.

But as for the classic drink made of roasted beans, the main health benefits of black coffee are:

  • A cup of coffee can cure headaches
  • Regular consumption can significantly reduce the risks of: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, gout and liver cancer, as well as cancers of the skin, prostate, bowel, brain, breast, mouth and throat etc.
  • As long as the consumption is moderate, coffee actually prevents heart disease, contrary to what was previously thought.
  • Coffee contains powerful anti-oxidants that fight free radicals and aging.
  • Coffee is a natural diuretic and detoxifier; this, combined with its energizing effects, makes coffee the ideal sports drink.
  • The caffeine present in coffee has anti-diabetic effects.
  • Coffee consumption can alleviate the symptoms and intensity of the metabolic syndrome (as well as help with dieting).
  • Some coffee components block the inhibitory effects of dopamine and adenosine in the brain, effectively reducing the chances of clinical depression and making you feel better.

Potential drawbacks of coffee

The potential drawbacks of coffee are few and usually only kick in at higher amounts consumed daily. These downsides include an increased risk of heart disease from the diterpenes present in the coffee, as well as a chance of increased cholesterol in the case of instant coffee consumption. Also, a lot of people drink coffees enriched with plenty of sugar, syrups, milk and rich creams, which can significantly add up to their calorie and fat intake, but this health risk isn’t caused by the coffee per se. All in all, the health benefits of coffee far surpass any unpleasant effects, as long as the consumption is moderate.

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The history of plagues is fascinating to some, a bit morbid to others, but definitely highly important to our ancestry and the personalized histories of each European people and their historical offspring (the American and Australian peoples, as well as the mixed peoples from the colonies). While there were other devastating epidemics in our distant histories, the medieval age plagues are still the ones documented best and the ones we instinctively think about whenever the word “plague” comes up. The bubonic plague, septicemic plague and the Black Plague are the most familiar to our modern ears, but there were various kinds of them literally plaguing the world’s population a few hundred years ago.

What other plagues were there?

While other epidemics like the Spanish flu wiped out a considerable percentage of the general European population, the plagues seem to remain the most fascinating medieval diseases to this day. Perhaps the symptoms of the afflicted created a stronger impression on the witnesses, or perhaps there are simply enough documents and works of art centered on plagues, but there are definitely more places in the contemporary imaginary dedicated to plagues than to any other non-modern day disease. So, even though you didn’t necessarily dress up as a Plague Doctor during your last Halloween, here is something you probably didn’t know yet about history’s weirdest plague.

The Dancing Plague of Strasbourg which occurred during the summer of 1518 is definitely worthy of that title: if this is not the weirdest plague in our history, then everything is dull and ordinary. This so-called plague, named a plague because of its virulence and epidemic-like spread, was a case of dancing mania which scared its contemporaries and was notorious far beyond its initial time and space coordinates. Over the period of one month, more and more people took to restless dancing, in spite all efforts to stop them on behalf of family members or law enforcement. The strangeness of the act and the obviously mental component of the plague sparked vivid debates among contemporaries, with the Church favoring the view that they were dealing with a case of mass demonic possession.

While a case of people who won’t stop dancing does sound like the weirdest plague in history, but not very serious compared with the physical ailing plagues, it may come as a surprise that this dancing plague actually had a great toll of deaths as well. The dancing fits were definitely not a mere case of people who has hysterical fun and refused to go home early, since it killed so many of them: over the course of a few days of ceaseless dancing, the afflicted would die of a stroke, a heart attack or simply of exhaustion.


Pictured above: an engraving of Hendrik Hondius which portrays women afflicted by the Dancing Plague and the helpless attempts to stop them from dancing.

What was the death toll?

In total, there were about 400 recorded cases of afflicted dancers, out of which many died, though there aren’t any exact numbers. It is still a small death count compared to the other plagues, but the subject fascinates mainly because there is still no definite scientific explanation for the weirdest plague in history. Some physicians of that time suggested that the plague has a natural cause rather a supernatural one, and their reports indicate that some sort of contagion did take place, since if you went to close to the people dancing, you risked being afflicted yourself. Modern scientists have sketched a number of theories on what kind of pathogen could be transmitted through air and cause such uncontrollable muscle cramps, but there are no definite answers yet.

Why was it so memorable?

What seemed to terrify the people who witnessed the weirdest plague in history the most, is the fact that many of the dancers were yelling at any passerby for help and cried for someone to stop them from their restless dance. The creepy feeling of witnessing someone being controlled by an external force, especially in an age when superstition was high, must have made quite an impression. As for the authorities, at the beginning they brought in some musicians and made some practical arrangements in the markets to allow people to dance, thinking that if they dance it out, perhaps they’ll grow tired of it and finally go home. When it soon became clear that the dancers will not stop even at the risk of their own death, the city hall issued a period of quarantine and watched helplessly as the weirdest plague in history unfolded.

Towards the end of July 1518, the number of new cases dwindled though, and the next month brought with it the official end of the Dancing Plague. While the bubonic plague or the Black Plague were definitely deadlier in absolute numbers, this episode remains to this day an unsolved mystery and a fascinating tale of the weirdest plague of our medieval history.

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Especially as we have become more knowledgeable about the world and more comfortable with the differences between cultures, anthropology became a more and more interesting science in the Western world. Finding out more details about the others, as distant and exotic as possible, became something not only interesting, but mandatory to all so-called civilized societies which value science and reason. Some say this fascination is nothing more than an attempt to capitalize the exotic, others say that it’s a typical and institutionalized result of white man’s guilt. But there are also more benevolent viewers of anthropology who celebrate it as a way of getting to know more about ourselves and what it means to be human, through the means of getting to know those different from us first.


Such others, who are as radically different from us as they get, are the so-called contemporary primitives (but the word should not be used in a pejorative manner), whom most of us didn’t really believe existed today. The official monitoring was, of course, aware of the number of uncontacted tribes in remote areas of each continent, especially since the spread of satellites that make monitoring and charting easier, but the mainstream public was definitely not aware such peoples still existed. That all changed when the media covered a certain event intensely: in 2010, a helicopter crew took photographs of a previously uncontacted Amazonian tribe living in the forests around the Brazil-Peru border. The photos were then all over the news and probably everyone who saw them was equally amazed and touched by the defensive and naïve way they were holding their crude spears up in the air, trying to fight the monstrous flying machine.

Why did the uncontacted tribe come out?

But while the tribe remained somewhat uncontacted further (well, if we rule out the visual contact already described), maintaining their status of modern day contemporary primitives, things definitely changed earlier this year, in late June 2014. Something drove these people out of their isolation (which the Brazilian government was protecting from a distance) and made them travel for weeks to get closer and closer to another community, attempting to make contact with them. The contact eventually took place on the 29th of June 2014, when the so-called contemporary primitives finally reached the settled indigenous community known as the Ashaninka.

Unfortunately, what triggered this massive movement was their feeling of danger, due to illegal logging activities on the Peruvian side of the border. And this well-known tribe (known because of the spectacular photos which were published in 2010) wasn’t the only one sharing the same struggle. According to both the Brazilian and the Peruvian governments who are working together to limit the illegal logging and drug trafficking activities from the remote areas around the border, more and more tribes of uncontacted Indians are on the move, seeking help and contact as the danger approaches them.

What happens to contemporary primitives who come out of isolation?

To be clear, these illegal activities are a threat to them not only because they bring a harsh reality to a people unaccustomed with seeing some of our contemporary technologies and so on, and not even because they destroy their habitat. In fact, as experts from both governments have warned, these defenseless tribes of contemporary primitives risk full-on genocide if they do not flee from the groups performing illegal activities. Killing people for resources is not unheard of, and these people have no knowledge, or proper defense, or paperwork and official identities to protect them.

To wrap up the story of the well-known and still unnamed tribe which emerged from the forest this late June to make contact with the settled community, they now face other dangers, in spite of reaching a safe place and need not fear violence anymore. As will every other uncontacted tribe in history, suddenly having close interactions with a foreign community risks causing an epidemic and killing many of them from causes as banal as the common cold. Without being previously exposed to our common diseases and germs, the contemporary primitives do not possess the antibodies to protect themselves.

Medical personnel and government representatives have arrived at their location as soon as possible and they are all trying to make the innocent new-comers as comfortable as possible considering their world-altering situation, the latest news on the subject report. So far there has been no major incident, but all sorts of dangers still remain very real for the tens of other secluded tribes who haven’t broken their isolation yet through first contact. Hopefully, we will be able to protect them all from major harm, whether that means allowing them to remain secluded, or defending them from the shocks and dangers of coming into our world unprepared. So, in case you were wondering about our modern contemporary primitives, this is pretty much how things stand today.